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Robert E. Lee Portrait
Page) For a few minutes the Captain let
us remove the corpses and destroy the equipments of the dead animals, and then
we withdrew triumphantly to our comrades, the Captain telling us once that we
had done well, and the bewailing his fate that he commanded men who did not know
how to wheel by fours. That was my first acquaintance with rebel bullets, and
even the old soldiers said that it was the closest affair in which they had ever
Two days afterward I heard, for
the first time, the sound of a shell; and I might as well make a clean breast of
it, once for all, by describing my sensations connected with that.
We were in the rear of the army
as it fell back upon
Centreville—not the line of skirmishers, but what they call
the reserve, formed in line a little behind them. The rest of the cavalry had
moved on after the infantry, leaving us to hold a hill from which the enemy
might have annoyed them with artillery. We sat there without seeing any thing in
particular, and wondering why the rebels did not come out of the woods beyond
us; when suddenly there was a big puff of smoke at the edge of the trees, a loud
bang, and a tremendous screech in the air above our heads, so close that the
sound almost took my head off. I looked at the Captain, expecting to heat him
say, "By fours, do something or other;" but, confound it! he only said,
"Steady!" as there was another puff, another bang, and another screech, as a big
black mass of iron struck the ground ten yards in front of us, bounded over our
heads, and burst almost above us. It gave such a shock to my nerves that I could
not do any thing but shake, and I felt as if I should have much preferred being
under the ground to being above it. Those rebels banged away at us for half a
dozen rounds, each time striking close to us, before I saw our skirmish-line
come riding back at a walk, and heard the Captain give the order, "By fours,
march! Right counter-march!" and back we started. Two files in front of me
marched Dan E—, one of those fellows who always has his retort ready. I heard
the man next to him scolding at Dan's crowding him out of place: "Why the deuce
can't you follow your file-leader?" "Hang the file-leader!" answered Dan,
pushing him harder yet; "they've got range on him." And as he spoke sure enough
a shell came down and buried itself in the earth just where he would have been
if he had kept in his place. I can tell you we all rather obliqued after that,
and pretty soon we got safely out of fire.
Now I know what artillery and
musketry are both like; and though I shall not shirk from my place, I sincerely
hope that we will not be in it very soon again.
FROM THE WARS.
"THERE'LL be a bitin' black frost
on the hills to-night, I tell ye!" said Moses Atterly, as he threw an armful of
oak logs, fringed with silver-gray moss, upon the stone hearth, and rubbed his
hands cheerily before the red, roaring blaze that encircled the rude iron
fire-dogs in drifts of ruby sparks.
He was a tall, wiry-looking old
man, with mild hazel eyes, and a skin well-nigh as brown as the basket of
butter-nuts that stood in the corner—a man whom you might easily fancy to have
grown up among those rock-bound, wind-swept wildernesses, as one of the giant
pines on the steep cliffs above had grown—stalwart, sturdy, and true to the very
heart's core. The room was very plain, with no curtains at the narrow paned
windows, and no carpet save the odd zigzag veins in the hickory boards that
formed the floor; yet there was an air of comfort in the splint-bottomed chairs,
with their red moreen cushions, and the round table, neatly spread for the
evening meal. Over the fire an apoplectic black tea-kettle kept up a dreamy
song, and Moses Atterly's only child sat, with folded hands, in the chimney
corner, watching the vaporous wreaths curling from the spout—a pretty, soft-eyed
girl, with a late rose in her braids of glossy chestnut-brown hair, and
straight, clearly-cut features—now in shadow, now all irradiated by the
capricious torches of flame that played at hide-and-seek in and out among the
crevices of the great bubbling, singing logs.
"Have you been to the post-office
to-night, father?" said she, suddenly looking up as Moses gave the smouldering
back log a sort of remonstrating kick.
"No; but I met Jim Grayling down
by the hemlock hollow, and he said he was goin' straight there; so I told him to
ask if there was any thing for our folks. He'll be here directly, I calculate,
for it must be all of two hours ago."
"I am sorry," said Bessie, almost
petulantly. "Father, I detest the very sight of that man!"
"My daughter!" remonstrated
Moses, "that ain't accordin' to either sense or Gospel."
"Well, I can't help it, father,"
coaxed Bessie, stealing her soft, dimpled hand into the rough palm that lay on
Motes Atterly's knee. "He always seemed to me like—"
She stopped suddenly—so suddenly
that the late rose fell out of her hair and lay on the stone hearth —fur, as she
turned her head, she saw James Grayling standing beside them, unfolding a coarse
white-and-red worsted comforter from about his neck. He stooped, without a word,
and picked up the rose for her.
"Why, Jim!" said Farmer Atterly,
"where on airth did you drop down from? I didn't hear you come in."
"Didn't you? I am sure I knocked
loud enough," said Grayling, with a deep red flush slowly fading away from his
cheek. "Pretty well to-night, Bessie?"
"I'm well enough," pouted Bessie,
without looking at him, and tossing her recovered rose in among the glowing
cinders. Somehow it had lost its charm after having lain in James Grayling's
hand a second.
"Set down, Jim, set down," said
the farmer, heartily. "Any mails for us to-night?"
What a strange smile passed over
his face as he saw the sudden downward droop of Bessie Atterly's eyelashes—the
quiver around her mouth!
"Nothin'! That's queer. You see
our Bessie's feelin' kind o' worried 'cause she don't hear nothin' from Henry
"I got a long letter to-night
from my cousin, who is in the same company, you know. He says—"
James Grayling paused, a little
maliciously, to note the eager sparkle in Bessie's eyes as she leaned forward
with reddening cheeks and intent look.
"What does he say?" she gasped.
"Well, I'm afraid you'll feel
badly about it; but he says Harry Ives was captured, with half a dozen others,
by a skirmishing party about a week before be wrote."
"Yes; and that isn't all. He says
they didn't half believe Harry Ives cared whether he was carried down South or
not; for he had taken a great notion to some pretty girl down Virginia—a
"I don't believe it, James
Grayling," said Bessie, springing to her feet, with flashing eyes and
passion-crimsoned forehead; "I don't believe a word of it. You are repeating
some vile falsehood."
"I knew you'd feel bad," said
Grayling, with provoking mildness, "but I thought you ought to know how matters
stood. I can show you Sam's letter, if that will be any more satisfactory. I
never had much faith in Harry Ives—a careless, dashing fellow, who—"
"Hush! I will not listen to
another word," ejaculated Bessie, angrily, and with a certain strange dignity in
her girl-face and slender form.
"Mr. Atterly," said Grayling,
still with aggravating moderation and calmness, "how long is it since your
daughter received a letter from Harry Ives?"
"Well, it's a pretty consid'able
spell," said the old farmer; "but letters do take time to reach us, you know."
"Yes, particularly when they are
never sent," sneered Grayling.
"Father, don't listen to him,"
sobbed Bessie, passionately. "If the whole world were to tell me Harry Ives was
untrue I would not believe them."
And Bessie fainted quietly away,
with her chestnut braids of hair drooping over her father's knee.
Poor child! Could she but have
foreseen the weary months of waiting for the letter which never came from the
far-off Southern hills, the hope deferred which maketh the heart sick, that were
in store for her, she might have been sorry that she had not died, then and
there, holding fast to that firm faith in Harry Ives's fidelity.
James Grayling, a crafty, patient
man, bided his time. It came at last when the tender green of the hill-sides
shriveled and grew brown under the starry, silent frosts of the bitter December
nights, and the keen wind rushed with thunderous swell through the lonely
pine-forests in these wild solitudes.
"Daughter, it's the dearest wish
of my heart," said Farmer Atterly, solemnly, as he sat with Bessie in the old,
silent room. "I'm gettin' well on in years; and if I could but see you married
to some good and true man before I am taken away, I should rest easier in my
grave. James Grayling has been almost a son to me these months of trial and
trouble. He is coming for his final answer to-night. Let it be Yes!"
Bessie shuddered. That year of
sick, wistful grief had changed her into a pale, fragile girl, with large,
frightened eyes, ever roving from side to side, as if vainly seeking something
which never came.
"Wait, father," she murmured,
eagerly, as if pleading for sweet life itself: "wait a little longer —only a
"I have waited, Bessie. It is a
year and over since Henry Ives has sent you either word or message. He may be
dead—better dead than a scoundrel!—but James Grayling has been as true as steel
to me all this time. He deserves you, Bessie; and when you're once married
you'll learn to love him. Shall we say this day month for your wedding,
That night Bessie laid her cold
hand in James Grayling's eager palm, and said "Yes," dreamily, to whatever he
proposed. What had life left for her? As well be James Grayling's wife as any
thing else, since God willed that she should live and suffer on, and the dreary
path of years lay spread out before her listless feet!
The old smoke-stained walls were
wreathed with feathery garlands of cedar and pine, with the scarlet berries of
the mountain-ash glowing here and there; the great fire roared up the chimney
with festive sound, and all the neighbors were gathered round Farmer Atterly's
hearth-stone; for pretty Bessie was to be married that night.
"She don't look as a bride ought
to, somehow," whispered Mrs. Deacon Jennings to her companion, Mahala Bird. "She
seems to me jest like one o' them white snow-wreaths lyin' down in the holler
"Maybe it's that white dress,"
said Mahala; "but she does look like a corpse. Land o' Goshen! what be I a-sayin'?
It ain't good luck to talk about corpses on a wedding-night."
For the pretty bridemaids had
just led Bessie in, robed in pure sheeny silk, with snowy geraniums in her hair,
and not a vestige of color in her cheek.
"There! don't she look sweet?"
said Susy Jennings. "Is it time to go into the parlor yet?"
"Massy, no, child!" said Mrs.
Jennings; "not for an hour. Why, Jim Grayling hasn't come yet!"
So Bessie sat down in the midst
of the assembled maids and matrons, and played with the white flowers in her
bouquet, thinking, who knows of what? Perhaps a lonely grave under the cruel
Southern stars—perhaps the fair face of the woman who had wiled her lover's
Somebody spoke to her; she looked
up, and all of a sudden her frightened eyes traced a figure beyond the open door
opposite to which she sat—a figure hurriedly pressing through the crowd.
"Where is she? I will see Bessie,
wedding or no wedding! Who has a better right than I?"
The next moment the pale,
white-robed bride lay like a fair, still statue in Henry Ives's arms.
"Stand off, I say!" he cried,
fiercely. "Let no one come between me and the woman I love. I have earned her to
be my wife—earned her by long months of pain and suffering earned her by wounds
upon the battle-field of the country she loved! Do you say she is to be married
to James Grayling? What has James Grayling done with the letters I sent to his
care?—with all the messages I intrusted to him? She had better be in her grave
than married to James Grayling. Mr. Atterly, you are a just and a good man—judge
between me and the treacherous fox I fancied was my friend."
"Harry, Harry!" faltered the old
man, "I never dreamed o' this. Tell us about it, my boy, for my old head swims."
And Harry Ives, still holding
Bessie to his heart, revealed the story of his own truth and James Grayling's
duplicity. When he had finished the impassioned recital, Moses Atterly clasped
the brown, strong hand between his own horny palms, and said, solemnly:
"My boy, I ask your pardon for
every doubt that ever crossed my mind, and I thank the merciful Providence that
has spared Bessie from being Jim Grayling's wife. We were calculatin' to have a
weddin' here to-night, and it isn't too late yet, if Harry hasn't no objections
to bein' married in his soldier clothes!"
"Father!" interposed Bessie, rosy
as a whole bouquet of carnations blended into one, but Harry took her hands into
"Love! I shall not feel secure
until I can call you wife," and the remonstrance died away upon her lips.
"Are you all ready, Elder
Wilkins?" said Moses, "'cause I b'lieve the young couple is!"
Ah! she looked like a bride now,
with the hazel light burning in soft fires under her long curled lashes, and the
carmine dyes coming and going upon her cheek, like a proud and happy bride.
The ceremony was scarcely over
before the silver chime of sleigh-bells sounded at the door, and James
Grayling's voice was heard exclaiming:
"I'm afraid I am a little late,
but the horse sprained his leg, and I had to change him at Squire Warrenton's.
"Yes, Jim Grayling, you are a
little late," said Moses Atterly, taking a prodigious pinch of snuff; "for my
darter's married already."
"Married!" ejaculated Grayling,
as if half uncertain whether his intended father-in-law were not a fit candidate
for a lunatic asylum.
"Yes—to Harry Ives!"
As James Grayling's bewildered
eye caught sight in the brilliantly lighted rooms beyond of the young soldier
bending his tall head to listen to some whispered word from Bessie, he turned a
dull, dead yellow, and a chill dew broke out around his mouth.
"What does this mean?" he asked.
"It means, Jim Grayling, that
you're a scoundrel!" said the old man, with sudden fire flashing in his eyes.
"There's the open door—leave this house before Harry Ives sets eyes on you, for
he's a spirited lad, and mischief might come of it! And hark ye—never let me see
your villainous face again!"
Silently, and like a wounded
snake, James Grayling crept out into the chill darkness of the tempestuous
night, a detected, disappointed man. And so effectually did he take Moses
Atterly's advice, that the little village in the hollow knew his name and
presence no more.
And Bessie Ives, the happiest
little wife in the whole world, sings softly over her work, counting the days
until, "when this cruel war is over," she shall welcome her soldier-husband back
to the grand old pine forests of Maine once more.
"COME, Fred, tell me all about
that glorious fight which, you know, it was just my ill-luck to miss. If it had
been such another whipping as we had at
Fredericksburg, the Fates would probably
have let me be there. I have heard several accounts, and know the regiment did
nobly; but the boys all get so excited telling about it that I have not yet a
clear idea of the fight."
"Here goes, then," said the
Adjutant, lighting a fresh cigar. "It will serve to pass away time, which hangs
so heavy on our hands in this dreary hospital."
"We were not engaged on the first
day of the fight, July 1, 1863, but were on the march for Gettysburg that day.
All the afternoon we heard the cannonading growing more and more distinct as we
approached the town, and as we came on the field at night learned that the First
and Eleventh corps had fought hard, suffered much, and been driven back outside
the town with the loss of Major-General
Reynolds, who, it was generally said,
brought on an engagement too hastily with Lee's whole army. We bivouacked on the
field that night.
"About nine o'clock the next
morning we moved up to the front, and by ten o'clock the enemy's
REBEL BATTLE-FLAGS CAPTURED.
First Tennessee, captured by the
Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Fourteenth Tennessee, captured by
the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Sixteenth North Carolina
Regiment, captured by the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July
Battle-flag, State not given,
captured by the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers at Gettysburg, July 3.
Battle-flag, State not given,
captured by the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteers.
shells were falling around us.
Captain Coit had a narrow escape here. We had just stacked arms and were
resting, when a runaway horse, frightened by the shelling, came full tilt at
him; 'twas 'heavy cavalry' against 'light infantry;' but Coit had presence of
mind enough to draw his sword, and bringing it to a point it entered the
animal's belly. The shock knocked Cuit over, and he was picked up senseless with
a terribly battered face, and carried to the rear."
"By-the-way, Fred, is it not
singular that he should have recovered so quickly and completely from such a
"Indeed it is. He is as handsome
as ever; but to go on. At four o'clock in the afternoon we moved up to support a
battery, and here we lay all night. About dark Captain Broatch went out with the
pickets. Though under artillery fire all day the were not really engaged, as we
did not fire a gun. Some of our pickets, unfortunately going too far to the
front, were taken prisoners during the night.
"At about five o'clock on the
morning of the 3d Captain Townsend went out with companies B and D and relieved
Broatch. As soon as he got out Townsend advanced his men as skirmishers some
three hundred yards beyond the regiment, which moved up to the impromptu
rifle-pits, which were formed partially by a stone-wall and partially by a rail
fence. Just as soon as our skirmishers were posted they began firing at the
rebel skirmishers, and kept it up all day, until the grand attack in the
afternoon. Before they had been out twenty minutes, Corporal Huxham, of Company
B, was instantly killed by a rebel bullet. It was not discovered until another
of our skirmishers, getting out of ammunition, went up to him, saying, 'Sam, let
me have some cartridges?' Receiving no answer, he stooped down and discovered
that a bullet had entered the poor fellow's mouth and gone out at the back of
his head, killing the brave, Chancellorsville-scarred, corporal so quickly that
he never knew what hurt him. Presently Captain Moore was ordered down with four
companies into a lot near by, to drive the rebel sharp-shooters out of a house
and barn from whence they were constantly picking off our men. Moore went down
on a double-quick, and, as usual, ahead of his men; be was first man in the
barn, and as he entered the Butternuts were already jumping out. Moore and his
men soon cleared the barn and then started for the house. Here that big sergeant
in Company J (Norton) sprang in at the front door just in time to catch a bullet
in his thigh, from a reb watching at the back; but that reb did not live long to
brag of it, one of our boys taking him 'on the wing.' Moore soon cleared the
house out and went back with his men. Later in the day the rebs again occupied
the house, and Major Ellis took the regiment and drove them out, burning the
house, so as not to be bothered by any more concealed sharp-shooters in it."
"Yes, I know the Major don't like
to do a thing but once, so he always does it thoroughly the first time."
"It was in these charges for the
possession of that house we lost more officers and men than in all the rest of
"About one o'clock in the
afternoon the enemy, who had been silent so long that the boys were cooking
coffee, smoking, sleeping, etc., suddenly opened all their batteries of reserve
artillery upon the position held by our corps (the Second). First one great gun
spoke, then, as if it had been the signal for the commencement of an artillery
conversation, the whole hundred and twenty or more opened their mouths at once
and poured out their thunder. A perfect storm of shot and shell rained around
and among us. The boys quickly jumped to their rifles and lay down behind the
wall and rail barricade. For two hours this storm of shot and shell continued,
and scented to increase in fury. Good God! I never heard any thing like it, and
our regiment has been under fire 'somewhat,' as you know. The ground trembled
like an aspen leaf; the air was full of small fragments of lead and iron from
the shells. Then the sounds—there was the peculiar 'whoo?—whoo?—whoo-oo?' of the
round shot; the 'which-one?'—'which-one?' of that fiendish Whitworth projectile,
and the demoniac shriek of shells. It seemed as if all the devils in hell were
holding high carnival. But, strange as it may seem, it was like many other
'sensation doings,' 'great cry and little wool,' as our regiment, and, in fact,
the whole corps lost very few men by it, the missiles passing over beyond our
position, save the Whitworth projectiles which did not quite reach us, as their
single gun of that description was two miles off. Had the enemy had better
artillerists at their guns, or a better view of our position, I can not say what
would have been the final result; but certain it is, nothing mortal could have
stood that fire long, had it been better directed, and if our corps had broken
that day, Gettysburg would have been a lost battle, and General Lee, instead of
Heintzelman, the commanding officer in this District of Columbia to-day.
"About three P.M. the enemy's
fire slackened, died away, and the smoke lifted to disclose a corps of the rebel
'Grand Army of Northern Virginia,' advancing across the long level plain in our
front, in three magnificent lines of battle, with the troops massed in close
column by division on both flanks. How splendidly they looked! Our skirmishers,
who had staid at their posts through all, gave them volley after volley as they
came on, until Captain Townsend was ordered to bring his men in, which he did in
admirable order; his men, loading and firing all the way, came in steadily and
coolly—all that were left of them, for a good half of them were killed or
wounded before they reached the regiment..
"On, on came the rebels, with
colors flying and bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, keeping their lines as
straight as if on parade: over knees and ditches they come, but still their
lines never break, and still they come. For a moment all is hush along our
lines, as we gaze in silent admiration at these brave rebs; then our division
commander, (Next Page)